Enriching the home environment for dogs
With social distancing restrictions in place, dogs could be one of the hardest hit of the common house pets when it comes to their quality of life. As we’re seeing from some of the early memes, this may not apply to all dogs. Some are clearly being walked more than ever. However, for those of you whose situation demands a restriction in the outdoor activities your dog can enjoy, we thought we’d give you a few tips on how to enrich your dog’s indoor environment.
That said, this advice does not absolve all dog owners of making sure your pets’ basic needs are met.
A dog’s basic needs
There are three essential elements that you need to provide for your dog(s) when they’re indoors:
- Water – A plentiful supply of fresh water is always essential.
- Food – Do make them work a bit harder to get at their food. Special feeders for wet food and hiding the odd treat won’t just stop them wolfing their dinner down in one go, it’ll allow them to mimic a little of their natural behaviours too. A great tip is to roll dry treats up in a towel and then let your dog find them. Or, if you can, sprinkle dry treats around the garden. Sniffing out food can be very calming.
- Shelter – Make sure they have a sanctuary in your home where they can get away from the noise of a busier-than-normal household. Also, you must always make sure they have sufficient opportunities to go to the toilet outside.
Below are a few other ideas to liven up your home for your dog. If we’ve missed any environmental enrichment tips or you’ve discovered a new one, we’d love to hear about what you’re doing so please do share your enrichment tips on our Facebook page
Here are our top tips for entertaining your pooch indoors:
Living room laps – Do laps of your living room or garden a few times a day to keep (you and) your dog mentally stimulated and exercised.
Perfect playtime – Your dog will love nothing more than ten minutes of play. Chucking a ball for them to chase or catch, a bit of tug of war, or just play fighting are all things they’ll enjoy.
Tricks and training – Take the opportunity of being together to have more fun with a game of fetch, or take the time to teach them a new trick or command – both will do wonders for mental stimulation and enjoyment.
Frozen treats – Freezing food or water in ice cube trays can keep them happy for hours. We use this a lot in summer to keep them cool but it can be used in playtime, any time.
Music therapy – This is one you may not have tried and it’s similar to some of the advice we put out around November to help deal with anxiety caused by noise. Check out Spotify’s playlist ‘My Dog’s Favourite Podcast’, it’s designed to encourage pet relaxation.
Get Creative – Make a great new game from ‘locally available materials’, like a washing basket and a towel. Just spending fun time with your dog will enrich their life.
Whatever you do, if it helps your dog out, why not share it on our Facebook page with other local pet owners.
Here’s a photo of one of our team’s dog’s experiences during lockdown.
Share your enrichment tips on our Facebook page – Facebook.com/WildboreVetstop
Don’t forget that if your dog is getting less exercise because you’re doing your bit to maximise social distancing, that means they’ll need fewer treats (alternatively try switching to healthy treats like carrots and apples, just like Ollie did in the video below for his game of Noughts & Crosses). Here is Ollie, who belongs to Emily, one of our veterinary nurses. Emily is using the simple game of Noughts and Crosses and some healthy treats to provide Ollie with some mental stimulation. As you can see, he’s been doing some practicing!
If you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s health, you can give our friendly team a call on 01909 472059 throughout the current situation.
Read our advice:
You might also like to read our factsheet on dog behaviour: Understanding your dog’s behaviour